Saturday 10 June 2000


Pic of the day: Latest issue of "Illustrert Vitenskap", packed with interesting and slightly inaccurate articles about robots, puberty, obesity and other everyday science.
Oh, and the headline on the cover says "The robot shows emotions". Heh.

Cerebrating puberty

I knew this was going to be one of those days.

For five workdays, I had groaning chased my body out of bed after listening to the alarm clock radio blather loudly for a long time, mainly about the sad things that happen in the world. But today, when I'm off work, I wake up by myself several minutes before that same time, and can't get to sleep again. I quickly suspected that the tension in my body was my digestion planning to act up again. I don't hold it against those poor guts, either, for I had eaten mainly chocolate and old scraps from the fridge the day before. I can't honestly say whether that bread was one or two weeks old on Friday. The ham & egg salad was opened pretty exactly one week earlier, though. I think the bread hails from one salad before. There was no green hair on it, though. I am reluctant to throw away bread without hair.

Sure enough, I spent the late morning and well past noon ruling Chaos Node from the porcelaine throne, more or less. Luckily I had the foresight yesterday to secure myself a new issue of "Warrior Princess Xena", the comic. So there was no lack of entertainment. But the problem was that I couldn't safely get to the post office. There lies waiting for me an envelope with my password for, the Swedish NetBank for Norwegians, with conditions way more favorable than the Norwegian bank I use now. (I'm not so nationalist that I will give gifts to Norwegians if I can have Swedes give me gifts instead.)

I managed to slink away before closing hours of the grocery shop, though, and secure for myself milk and cheese and yoghurt. Yes, my food habits are such that the grocery people might wonder if I was abandoned as a baby and raised by cows.


Since you can have only so much fun with Warrior Princess Xena, I turned to the latest issue of Illustrert Vitenskap, a Norwegian popular science magazine. (In fact, the only surviving such magazine, though there have been repeated attempts at competition through the years.) The name means "Illustrated Science", though I'm honestly more interested in the science than the illustrations. This time, for instance, there was this fascinating article explaining why teens are impervious to reason.

It turns out that what happens to the brain during puberty is not an adjustment. It's a rebuild. I guess the insects got it right ... they go into a cocoon and don't emerge until they're complete adults! Another tasty factoid was that the brain centers for emotion are not fully matured until sometime in our twenties ... or closer to thirty for males. I guess that explains a lot! :) The brain centers for reason and for emotion are simply not connected when you are younger, so even though you can think, you still can't do anything about your emotions. Hmm. I'm not sure this really changes in all people even when they grow older...


I remember my own younger years. Pretty confusing, true enough, but really it was a big improvement over childhood. Now, childhood was truly confusing and scaring. So many things I did not understand at all. OK, we never understand all things, but eventually I started to get a grip. I know that most kids have some good years just before puberty, when they start to come into their role as children, start to find their place in the world. And then it's all shattered and they have to scramble for a new place in life. I wasn't like that.

I never had a typical puberty time at all, I think. I was still childish when I was 15, but no worse than I had been before. I got along great with my parents all the time I lived at home, as long as they did not try to make me work. I remember screaming like a wounded beast if they tried to make me do anything useful. So you can see, I have changed less than most... :)

I guess the sex thing really ruffles the feathers of many teens. As a kid, you usually don't have any dealings with that. Though I know that I at least had my scattered moments of sexual excitement through my childhood, helped by such things as Donald Duck & Co. I guess that's pretty normal. I saw lambs and goat kids were playing at sex too, so it's probably pretty much natural and harmless. At least the grown sheep had the good grace to ignore the whole thing. Once the gonads start up their production, though, things get messy, particularly for male kids. (Incidentally, "kids" apply equally to goats here. Much of what I know about humans, I learned from the goats. A young billy-goat in his first season is a pathetic sight indeed, and I recognized the same attitude in some of my school mates. At least they did not actually pee in their beard, as could happen to the billy-goats. Of course, lack of a beard may factor in here.)

You know, I wish school had set aside some time to explain children what was coming to them. I mean, pre-teen kids are not idiots. Well ... not complete idiots. Not all of them. It sure would be more useful than lists of long dead kings, or more cities in Belgium. You may also throw in some basic training in meditation and conflict solving, both of which would come in really handy. I think the pop-sci magazine is too fatalistic when they say we just have to wait it out. We're not cellular automata. We are humans, at least some of us are, and should be given the chance to prove it.

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